Saturday, January 29, 2011

Name Calling, California-Style


Yesterday, I watched a boy of about 12 hurl his backpack repeatedly at a chain link fence until it finally cleared the top. I briefly considered helping him, but realized that I was even shorter, a fact I tend to overlook most of the time ~ I think of myself as a tall person traveling incognito. He then climbed over the locked gate and landed hard on the concrete school playground.

He wasn't hurt so I started to walk away when another boy passing by yelled, "You look like an illegal alien!" I thought he was joking as the other boy had surmounted a tall, locked fence. The first boy picked up his backpack and took off across the school yard. "Illegal alien!" yelled the boy on my side of the fence. "ILLEGAL ALIEN!!" Transported by his own cleverness, he yelled it several more times as he continued on his way.

It seemed a strange epithet, especially since the kid doing the name calling looked Hispanic while the climber was Black. One can only guess at the family situation which would make "illegal alien" the worst thing a person could be, or call someone. I guess with determination, we can always find something to make us feel superior to someone else.

15 comments:

SY said...

aint that the truth... thoughts of superiority is just poison...
and it makes me wonder what garbage their parents are teaching them at home
:) Sy

Maria said...

It sort of amazes me at how entertained some people are with themselves...

My brother in law will say the ugliest racist jokes and then sit there chortling, so pleased with himself that he can hardly stand it.

Grandma's scrapbook said...

I agree about this "is not that the truth ... thoughts of superiority is just poison ... and it makes me wonder what garbage their parents are teaching them at home" greetings from Slavonia

TechnoBabe said...

It is interesting to watch the way people react to each other. In particular, people who do not know each other. Perhaps the boy yelling out "Illegal Alien" does so because it has been yelled at him and/or his family. I found one more thing you and I have in common. "A tall person traveling incognito."

secret agent woman said...

"Most of us hate anything
that we don't understand.
'Cause everybody's got to have
somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than
at anytime they please."

(Kris Kristofferson - Jesus was a Capricorn)

nick said...

At least the other boy wasn't able to do anything but shout abuse. What's more worrying is the adults who happily employ illegals knowing they can subject them to atrocious working conditions and wages and get away with it because they won't be reported.

mrwriteon said...

When I was a kid the worst thing you could call somebody was a DP (displaced person). The term was originally applied to all the war refugees after WW II. Later it just became a general pejorative, usually enhanced with the F-word as adjective. Very much akin to illegal alien. In other words: "You don't belong here."

Brown said...

At least he was being politically correct.

the walking man said...

It is more than a desire to find someone to look down on it is a need. We are so rocked in insecurity that if we do not have someone to see as smaller and weaker than our self than we are forced to confront our own weakness.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

SY,

Bigotry certainly does begin at home. (Home is where the hate is.)

Maria,

May I confess that I absolutely despise your brother-in-law? He seems to be a person with no redeeming social value at all, unless great blogging material counts.

Grandma's,

I agree with that statement, too. Greetings to Slavonia!

Babe,

I've always pictured you as a tall chick. You have a big personality, and that's what counts.

Agent,

Feelings of superiority only demonstrate the deepest kind of insecurity. I wonder when, if ever,our species will get past this stage in our evolution as it causes most of the harm in the world.

Nick,

Yes, that, too. As long as all the power is in the hands of the few, this kind of misery will be perpetuated.

Ian,

That kind of jingoism is everywhere. In the American South, "Yankees" are reviled. In Vermont, non-Vermonters are referred to as "flatlanders."In most of the places I've lived, I was "foreign," ie not from around there going back 7 generations. It's ridiculous.

Brown,

LOL. Yes. There is that. We like our bigots to be as pc as possible.

Mark,

You are so wise. Apparently most of us need to diss someone else to feel better about our own sadly lacking selves.

Cloudia said...

You hit on it: superiority in an uncertain time



Aloha from Honolulu
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Molly said...

My kids got a kick out of bragging to their friends that their mom was an alien, albeit a legal one. Sounds lame to me!

You can sign up [or not, I just did January's sort of!] for the February Photo Scavenger Hunt at

http://postcardsfromthepp.blogspot.com/2011/02/february-scavenger-hunt.html

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Cloudia,

We are all uncertain and insecure, to some degree, but taking it out on others only makes it worse.

Molly,

That's pretty funny, an alien with a charming Irish lilt.

Thank you for the info about the photo shoot. I'd love to do it if I can.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

What in the world made him think it was alright to speak to anyone like that?

Why doesn't he understand the source behind his statement, that while 'hopping the border' is illegal -more for political reasons than anything- those people are so desperate for a better life that they are willing to take the risks that come with the attempt.

Very sad. Perhaps ignorance is his bliss.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Scarlet,

If ignorance is bliss, there are a lot of blissful people out there.